Minister of State for Education, Chief Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba

By Desmond Ejibas

Minister of State for Education, Dr Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba has called for more cooperation between industry and academia to drive the nation’s oil and gas sector.

Nwajiuba made the call at the maiden Graduation/Award Ceremony of 143 Subsea, Offshore, and Pipeline Engineers at the Offshore Technology Institute (OTI), University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT) on Friday.

He said the nation’s oil and gas industry would make remarkable progress if both groups work together to achieve one common goal.

He said: “We need to adopt Triple Helix concept and local content application processes that would drive the country from how we are taught; feed and produce.

“It is true that we have run a rent-base industry for a long time; but maybe industry should now respond and tell us exactly what they need.

“The industry should tell what they need and what they actually require from the academia. It is time to make changes,” he appealed. 

The minister said the nation’s academia must also move focus away from mainly theory to research and development.

“Honestly, I’m tired of thesis; tired of professors with too many papers without patent. At some point, we must bring everybody to work for this country.

“So, we thank the UNIPORT for setting up the Offshore Technology Institute – which is an exceptional place of learning.

UNIPORT VC, Prof. Ndowa Lale and Minister of State for Education, Chief Chukwuemeka Nwajiuba at the maiden graduation of 143 students at the Offshore Technology Institute in UNIPORT

“We must open frontiers along other corridors where this institute (OTI) can be implemented,” he said.

Speaking, Dr Tobinson Briggs, Acting Director of OTI said the 143 graduating students, from six batches, would be awarded Masters of Science Degrees in Subsea Engineering, Offshore Engineering and Pipeline Engineering.

He expressed optimism the graduates would contribute immensely to the nation’s oil and gas sector, especially as most International Oil Companies were now divesting into deep water operations. 

“The students went through formal classroom lecturers; internship in industry for hands-on-experience and internship report and external MSc dissertation defence all for 12 months period,” he added.

UNIPORT’ Vice Chancellor, Prof. Ndowa Lale said the nation was gradually making progress with improved investment in research and development and the adoption of the Triple Helix concept.

He, however, expressed worry over alleged neglect by some multinational corporations to engage local universities to solve their industry-challenges.

“The corporations have continued to engage in the objectionable practice of patronising universities in their home countries for solutions to their operational problems.    

“If the industry and government agencies accelerate their support of the academia by strengthening teaching and research, then, Nigerian universities will compete favourably with their counterparts in other climes,” he said. 

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that majority of the graduates were sponsored by the Nigerian Content Development and Monitoring Board mandated to build local capacities in the oil and gas industry. (NAN)

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